Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Year, New Money Plan

Have you got your budget set to start the year out right? January is a great time to renew your money plan!

There is a common misperception that budgets are restricting and suffocating, but the opposite is true. When budgets are used correctly, they are actually FREEING. Isn't it nice to know that everything you need is being taken care of? That there is enough money to be on the path you desire?

A budget does NOT tell you what to do.
A budget is YOU telling money what to do.

Say it aloud: "A budget is ME telling money what to do."

I am showing you my budget as an idea. Make yours in whatever format seems logical to you (and your spouse, if married).

David and I argued for the first few years of our marriage just on how our budget should LOOK. I am very visual; David is very wrong technical. I wanted a calendar I could print out and write on, a "picture" of when things were due or needed to be sent out. Dave hated it because it seemed disorganized and his brain could not make sense of it. He wanted a list on Excel and said something about writing "macros", and I hated it because I needed a "visual", not just numbers inside boxes.

Here is what we ended up with, and we both love it.

Yep! It's on Excel! I'm not too proud to admit his idea was better in the long run. I got tired of manually writing a new budget every month, and there were times I forgot to copy everything over. Notice it's not a long column though. I wanted to see everything on ONE page and in logical groups (or "pictures" for my mind). We blended what we wanted in a format that works for both of us.

You've got to use something that works for YOU, so don't copy my format if it looks confusing to you.

I won't go into details about this form in this post, but I LOOOOOVE that it tells me how much money is left as I type in numbers (which is awesome for ZERO-based budgeting [scroll down to section labeled "Zeroing Out"]).

If you’re starting from scratch, create a basic budgeting form:
1) All income is recorded. (Ours is in the box at top left.)
2) All expenses are recorded.
3) The Essentials are highlighted. (Ours are in green; if we had to drastically reduce costs, we’d be most concerned about covering the essentials.)

I have some extra features on my budget, which I may or may not go into detail later. Who cares anyway? For now, just get started!

January is the best time to get your money plan written out. If you want 2011 to be different, then YOU have to behave differently. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get started!

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